Insurance applications can be very confusing at times. It is very important that every question be answered truthfully and accurately. In situations where an application contains a vague request for information, get a clarification in writing. Don't rely on verbal statements by agents, they don't work for the carrier, they work for you. Almost every insurance policy contains provisions that allow the insurance carrier to walk away from a covered claim if they can establish that there was something false in the application.
Does this sound fair? Probably not, but it's the law. Florida statute 627.409 (1) allows an insurance carrier to void an insurance policy if they would not have issued the policy, not issued the policy for the premium charged, or not provided coverage at the limits stated.
What does this mean? It means an insurance carrier can walk away from processing your claim if they think something was left out or not accurately stated. You don't even have to be intentionally wrong, just wrong!
Persons with questions regarding insurance carriers trying to avoid policies because of misstatements need an experienced insurance attorney who knows how to deal with such attempts.
This week the Supreme Court of the United States handed down an important decision facing all personal injury litigants and the attorneys who represent them. McCutchen was a US Airways employee who was injured by a third party. McCutchen had a company health insurance policy that paid his medical bills. The policy is one commonly referred to as an ERISA policy. These types of policies typically call for 100% reimbursement of benefits paid as a result of the negligence of a third party.
Non-ERISA policies follow the Medicare reduction formula. These types of reductions, in most instances, result in some recovery for the injured party. The ERISA policies can often result in no recovery for the injured after attorney’s fees and costs are accounted for.
In the McCutchen case, US Airways wanted the entire settlement to cover its benefits paid, leaving nothing for the injured/insured or the attorneys. US Airways attempted to take the entire settlement amount by asserting priority over attorney’s fees and costs. In denying this claim, the Court stated that unless the policy language specifically eliminated the attorney’s fees and costs, then the court would not disturb the concept of a common fund, which up to this point protected attorney’s fees and costs. However, the message the Court has sent is that the drafters of the ERISA policies are left open to creating policy language that could prevent the recovery of attorney’s fees and costs.
It is expected that more and more of these policies will contain this language. The fallout from this is that many injured people will have a hard time finding counsel if they have an ERISA policy that contains a pure 100% reimbursement clause. This has a downside for the carrier as well. Without counsel for the insured, the carrier has no chance of reimbursement. This is a classic case of “be careful what you wish for”…you may get it.
A recent Florida Supreme Court opinion illustrates the complexities and absurdities of insurance law. While visiting grandparents, a grandchild was allowed to drive grandma's car and take her parents with her as passengers. An accident occurred and the grandchild and her parents were severely injured. Believe it or not, the insurance carrier refused to cover the accident! Why? Because while the grandchild was driving the car, she was insured under grandma's policy. Her parents and she both lived in the same house, albeit separate and apart from the grandparents. Because the parents were relatives residing in the same household as the child and the child was an insured under grandma's policy, the insurance carrier was allowed to refuse to provide coverage for the damages because of an archaic law disfavoring coverage for lawsuits between two insureds under the same policy.
What makes this decision absurd is that if grandma had been driving, then the parents injuries would have been covered because the parents and grandma did not live in the same household! This is a decision that will likely result in more examples of insurance carriers refusing to cover accidents because of perceived loopholes and absurdities in the law.
For information on your rights under Florida's insurance laws and personal injury laws, feel free to call Joseph Fields for a free consultation. He offers a full range of legal services regarding motor vehicle accidents and insurance disputes. Mr. Fields lectures frequently on motor vehicle accident insurance disputes.
Retirement savings can be a complicated and stressful issue. Employees typically rely on a pension plan to help guarantee their long term savings. With so much riding on retirement policies, plan holders need to be fully aware of their policies and stay apprised as to the significant legal changes regarding retirement coverage.
CIGNA CORP v. Amara is a civil case that stemmed from CIGNA employees bringing suit against CIGNA for changes made to their ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) plan. The company notified employees of the change via the company newsletter, which suggested that the changes would lead to greater benefits to employees.
The employees contended that such improvement did not exist and took their objections to court. The case was originally heard in a district court, which sided with Amara et. al., and CIGNA appealed to the Supreme Court.Continue Reading...
The Broward Sheriff's Office is trying to fight insurance fraud. In an effort to stem this massive problem, they are checking driver's insurance randomly. This means that you should be prepared with your insurance card, registration card in your vehicle at all times.
- In Florida, drivers are required to have proof of insurance while driving. Florida Statute Chapter 324 discusses the motor vehicle financial responsibility.
- Driving Without Registration / With Expired Registration Expiration of registration; Florida Statute 320.07 discusses Registration renewal requirements and penalties.
- Driving Without a License / With a Suspended License Drivers must be licensed; Florida Statute 322.03 discusses penalties for driving without a license or with a suspended license.
In 2007, 23 percent of Florida drivers were uninsured, based on data from the Insurance Information Institute. This gives Florida the fifth-highest percentage in the nation. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles disputes that figure, saying it's less than six percent.
It is important to note that presenting a fake insurance card in Florida, is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.
Be Safe and keep copies of your required documents in your car at all times. It can save you a lot of unnecessary grief and possible fines. More importantly, it is the law.
Click on the following link to read more on: Got insurance? BSO brings in fraud checkers - Sun - Sentinel
Senator John Thrasher, must be the insurance industry's shill. He is certainly an enemy of the Florida consumer. Thrasher has introduced a new insurance bill that guts the muscle out of Florida’s bad faith statute. Presently when an insurance company is found to have acted in bad faith toward their own insured (by the way, that is YOU Mr. Florida Citizen) the Insurance Company is responsible for all the damages they cause, including the entire damages caused to their insured in the accident.
This type of law keeps Florida Insurance companies from intentionally hurting their own customers! Thrasher’s amendments will let the Automobile Insurance Company delay and/or deny their own customer’s claims without penalty.
This bill damages and compresses the rights of consumers in Florida. It empowers the insurance companies to abuse their own customers, and these customers happen to be Florida citizens.
The worst part of the problem is that when Insurance Companies fail to pay fairly with their customers more people get lawyers and it causes more litigation. More litigation puts more pressure on an already overburdened court system.
Governor Scott then believes he can help balance the budget by cutting back on judicial resources. How is that possible when the court system is being jury rigged to create more litigation?
Between Thrasher and Scott the credo of “Let’s get to work” sounds like “Let’s get to work undermining Florida’s citizens.”
Click on the following link to read excerpts from Senate Bill 0624: Motor Vehicle Insurance
Last Night, I was cruising through 100+ emails and I noticed a trend in the spam that snuck through our filter. These spam emails were from lawsuit marketing companies regarding UNUM Insurance and their systematic attempts to deny disability insurance benefits to their clients. Interestingly, that is a walk down memory lane for me.
17 years ago, a married couple walked into my law office claiming UNUM had done just that. I was a young solo practitioner in Jupiter, Florida who just left the U.S. Department of Justice. I was shocked at the facts of the cased. This man had significant injuries from an accident in New York. The injury left him with significant back problems, which caused him to become medically disabled. Fortunately, he had purchased disability insurance years earlier through UNUM insurance and two other carriers.
UNUM decided sent him to a Physical Therapy Center for a checkup after 7 years of retirement due to disability, not with an MD but rather with a Physical Therapist. The Therapist determined that my client should immediately return to work as an orthodontist even though his back had only gotten worse over the past 7 years and he had not been keeping up with his training. We fought UMUM for a year and finally reinitiated the full disability insurance benefits. It became obvious that UNUM was simply trying to starve my client out then settle with him for a lot less then he deserved. It was a terrible lesson that your own insurance company is out to get you when they can.
After 17 years of representing people against insurance companies, nothing has changed at UNUM. They continue to deny their own insured’s their benefits. Imagine how disappointing and angering it is to pay premiums for years only to become disabled and have your insurance company tell you they will not pay the benefits you purchased with the insurance.
Every first party insurance claim we handle, whether it is for automobile insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, PIP benefits, property damages or hurricane insurance benefits, sink hole claims and benefits, angers me that the insurance company won't live up to their end of the deal. They point fingers and claims that the "system" is full of fraud and unfair. From my perspective that is a false and exaggerated claim to legitimize, their desire to avoid paying benefits.
Something great happened in my first UNUM case. My client and I became lifelong friends. He is my daughter's godfather. His son, Carl, who was a law student at that time, graduated and has worked with me for the past 15 years. I guess I need to thank UNUM for many things.
I need to say Thank You for that great case. Thank you for paying my client's attorney fees. Thank you for teaching me how to deal with first party insurance claims. Thank you for a multitude of cases from then until now, not only for my firm but firms around the country. But most of all, thank you for introducing me to my good friends, Sol & Maxine, and their son, Carl, who were the hidden treasures in an old UMUM disability case.
United Automobile Insurance Company (United) is being sued for unpaid claims. In a recent press release, United complained about the injustice of being sued for small sums. Brian LaBovick, Managing Shareholder of LaBovick & LaBovick, P.A., a Florida civil litigation firm, notes, “We are suing United for failing to properly pay medical providers small sums on many claims. The numbers add up to a staggering amount; and its all sitting in United’s bank account. Imagine how you would feel if every day your boss deducted $3.89 from your pay. It would be unfair. United deducted small sums from medical providers because they thought the providers would not sue for such small sums.”
Under the law medical providers must timely bill automobile insurance for treatment rendered to auto accident victims. The automobile insurance industry used the legislature to set the amount doctors and other medical providers are paid. The doctors understand that they are only paid the legally regulated amount. United Automobile is refusing to pay the regulated amount. They deduct some amount and make the decision not to pay the medical providers the amounts required by law. United knows that even though the doctor was paid the wrong amount the doctor is not permitted to sue United. First the doctor must send a special letter called a Demand to United.
The Demand warns United that they did not pay properly and it requests proper payment. United has an additional 30 days to pay the medical providers. If United refuses to properly pay the doctor’s bill then the doctor can sue United to force them to pay the proper amounts. How many times should a doctor or medical provider be denied proper payment by United before seeking help? How much is the “right amount” to be ripped off before a doctor sues? Should the doctor wait for 1000 under-paid charges? How much money is United permitted to deny the medical providers before the doctor or medical provider is justified in standing up for their rights!
United Automobile Insurance Company’s propaganda argues that being sued hundreds of times for small sums is unfair. They feel that small lawsuits are a drag on our court system. They say that the law firm which is bringing them to justice for improperly paying claims is “clogging” up the court system and “wasting” taxpayer money! But who is really “gaming” the legal system? United Automobile underpays hundreds if not thousands of claims. They are then sent Demand letters. They decide not pay the claims. They decide to refuse to settle the claim after reviewing the Demand letter. Now they are acting shocked that they are being sued.
Florida, being a no-fault state, means that each person’s respective PIP (Personal Injury Protection) insurance will pay for that person’s medical bills up to $10,000. We received the following question from a reader of the LaBovick InjuryLaw Blog:
Injury Law Blog Question: If the accident was the other driver’s fault, and the injured driver in the other vehicle was uninsured, will the at-fault insured be responsible for personal and property damages even though Florida is a no-fault state?
The answer to our reader’s comment is YES. Under general law in Florida, a person who is found at-fault in an accident is responsible for the other person’s damages that are caused. So, if the at-fault driver caused both personal and property damage, then the at-fault driver is responsible for that.Continue Reading...
Do any of these sound familiar? "You are in Good Hands with Allstate", "Like a Good Neighbor State Farm is there", "Better Benefits at work - Unum", "Helping people live healthier lives - United Health. The above mentioned slogans are all from top insurance companies that were listed in the publication Top Ten Worst Insurance companies - How they raise premiums, deny claims, and refuse insurance to those who need it most, ranked by the American Association for Justice (AAJ).
As a Florida law firm, LaBovick & LaBovick, PA handles personal injury claims from accidents. We have worked with most insurance, if not all insurance companies, when working on behalf of our injured clients. This post does not mean to bash insurance companies or suggest not purchase insurance. There have been several instances where a client's Uninsured Motorist policy had to kick in, because the person responsible for the automobile accident, had no coverage or insufficient coverage. It is wise, to have a good insurance agent that you trust and respect, to write an insurance policy. Personally, I have been with my Insurance Agent for 20 years.
Proper coverage is so critical to a driver on Florida's roadways. If you are involved in an accident, and the other party responsible does not have coverage, you will wish that you would have taken out the Uninsured motorist coverage for the extra few hundred a year. It can save you lots of headaches in the future, if you are injured in an automobile accident. Talk to your agent about proper coverage for your vehicle.
All insurance carriers are not equal. Some are better than others and some are worse. The AAJ took a look at several insurance carriers and came up with a list of the top ten worst insurance companies. They investigated court documents, records from the FBI and the SEC, Complaints and investigations from State Insurance departments, testimony and deposition from former agents and adjusters, and new accounts from around the country. The final comprehensive list of the top ten worst include automobile insurers, homeowners insurers, health insurers, life insurers and disability insurers.
There are a few well know advertising insurance companies are absent from the AAJ list they are AFLAC, GEICO, and Progressive. They must be doing something right, if they managed to avoid the list.
Did you know that the insurance industry takes over $1 trillion annually in insurance premiums? The insurance industry also, has more than $3.8 trillion in assets, according to the Insurance Information Institute. One would think that with all of this money, why on earth would the insurance industry have to deny benefits to clients that were entitled to them. There is only one thing that comes to mind and that is corporate greed.
In this five part series, we will look at the insurance industry, discuss companies on the ten worst insurance company list and give readers a fresh perspective as to what the companies are doing to improve public opinion and to service customers.
According to the AAJ, the following companies ranked as the top ten worst insurance companies:
- State Farm
- United Health
- Liberty Mutual
Stay tuned for part two of the series on "he worst ten insurance companies" and what every consumer needs to know when choosing an insurance provider.
Read the PDF of the AAJ's "Ten Worst Insurance Companies"
According to the Illinois Supreme Court, a judgment against the insurer, Addison Insurance, for the accidental deaths of teens Everett Hodgins and Justice Carr at an excavation site constituted separate "occurrences" under the property owner's $2 Million liability insurance policy.
The plaintiff, Addison Insurance Company, brought a declaratory action in the circuit court of Will County against the defendants, the estates of teens Everett Hodgins and Justice Carr who were injured as a result of an Addison policyholder’s negligent maintenance of its property. The insured’s liability is not at issue in this case. Rather, this court is asked to determine whether the injuries to the boys constitute a single or multiple occurrences under the terms of Addison’s insurance policy.
Sadly, the $2 Million dollar policy will not bring the two teens back from their tragic death, but the parents will have closure in this horrible tragedy that took place on April 30, 1997.
Click here to read the ful text of the Supreme Court Opinion.
Thanks to everyone's efforts, thw Senate passed its version of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) reauthorization and expansion bill.
This Bill extends the life of S-CHIP through 2013, and enables up tp an additional 4 more million uninsured kids to obtain coverage. The bill also lifts eligibility restrictions immigrant children that are legal.
The House passed a similar version earlier and is working towards getting the few differences resolved. More than likely, President Obama will sign the new bill, which was vetoed twice by former President Bush.
Thanks to the support of our Senators, Mel Martinez and Bill Nelson this bill passed. We are grateful to Senator Mel Martinez for voting in favor to extend coverage to immigrant children that are legal. In Florida, we had 15 of our 25 Representatives that also voted in support. This included Bi-partisan support of (Reps. Buchanan, L. Diaz-Balart, M. Diaz-Balart, Ros-Lehtinen and Young)!
A sincere thanks and round of appaluse goes out to all of the advocates who made calls to urge passage of this important legislation! Team Work made a difference.
In a recent Arizona Appeals case, Chalpin vs. Snyder, the Court, raised several questions in a case regarding an insurance company not paying an insureds claim regarding a car accident. One of the most far-reaching question's is whether an attorney is liable for aiding and abetting in a malicious tort?
This case argues that Snyder, Attorney for the Reliance Insurance Company, assisted and participated in a tort against Hi-Health and its owner Mr. Chalpin, when the company refused to cover a driver-at-fault accident involving Mr. Chalpin’s daughter. Mr. Chalpin’s daughter was covered under the company policy as an occasional employee.
Two additional points of note are that 1) Reliance initially accepted the claim, and 2) Snyder initially held that the claim was valid. It was not until the claim exceeded a five million dollar expense that Reliance sought to disallow the claim. In fact, Snyder advised Reliance Insurance to sue their insured, Mr. Chalpin as a means of minimizing the value of the policy and thus reducing the acceptable settlement amount in the accident claim.
Two courts dismissed motions for summary judgment filed by Hi-Health and allowed the case to go to trial. Their reason was that the evidence as presented raised a credibility issue that was best decided by jury.
The subsequent appeal noted that the credibility issue would not have been present if Snyder had addressed the points of the suit in the motion. In short, Hi-Health claimed that Snyder knew that Reliance had improperly revisited its original decision to cover Mr. Chalpin’s daughter only after it realized the amount of exposure the company would suffer and that the subsequent suit was in fact an effort to shift its losses.
The court noted that Reliance failed to avail itself of a number of alternatives when issuing the original coverage, including modified coverage and deeper initial investigation of the person covered. The fact that Snyder was aware of these options, and initially held that the coverage was legitimate, was Snyder’s undoing.
Under general rule, “a lawyer is subject to liability to a client or non-client when a non-lawyer would be in similar circumstance.” Moreover, “when a lawyer advises or assists a client in acts that subject the civil liability to others, those others may seek to hold the lawyer liable along with or instead of the client.” (Paragraph 45 of the ruling) Thus, the court held that Snyder, due to active involvement in the misdirection of the case and its subsequent motions, was indeed liable and that aiding and abetting was a valid cause of action.
The Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s orders dismissing the aiding and abetting claims and granted summary judgment of the malicious prosecution claim.
Ironically, if Reliance Insurance had authorized the original settlement amount, consistent with the coverage obtained by the policyholder, this case would never have gone to trial.
A common topic that we are asked to explain to clients in our Florida law office is the Florida Law on PIP. There are several misconceptions out there on what PIP covers. This blog post will go over the ABC's of Florida Personal Injury Protection Insurance.
PIP is a guaranteed health insurance policy for a person who is injured in an automobile accident. When a person is injured in an automobile accident if they do not have regular health insurance, but they have PIP insurance, they are guaranteed $10,000 of health insurance less what ever deductible they have chosen. In other words, the person injured is guaranteed $10,000 worth of health benefits. If they have a $1,000 deductible for example, the first $1,000 of medical bills is their responsibility.
PIP pays 80% of your reasonable and necessary medical bills. The PIP law just changed, so there are Medicare fee schedules that PIP pays 80% of those schedules. For example, if there is a charge for $100, Medicare's fee schedule would be $80. Eighty percent of the first bill would get applied to the deductible. When the deductible is met, PIP then pays 80% of those next bills, up to $10,000. One of the benefits of PIP is that it gives the injured person in an accident, $10,000 of insurance for their medical bills. It is also the law in Florida as the minimum requirement to operate a vehicle. In the State of Florida, you must have PIP and Property damage insurance.
Is it always the $10,000 limit?
Yes. I have seen on occasion, extended PIP, but those would be associated with out of state policies. I have not seen extended PIP on a Florida policy.
What is the deductible for PIP?
You can manipulate your deductible, meaning you have options too choose from, which includes: no deductible, $500 deductible or $1,000 deductible.
Have you paid your Insurance premium lately? If so, your premiums are helping the Insurance Industry account for over $1 trillion in annual premiums and amass over $3.8 trillion in assets, which happens to be more than the GDPs of all but two countries in the world, the United States and Japan. Despite this overwhelming success, the Insurance still try and do anything to avoid paying claims for their clients.
The consumer rights organization, American Association of Justice, released the comprehensive report, The Ten Worst Insurance Companies in America: How They Raise Premiums, Deny Claims, and Refuse Insurance to Those Who Need It Most." This report highlights 10 of the worst insurance companies for consumers based criteria such as, SEC and FBI records, testimony from former insurance agents and adjusters, court documents and more.
The report ends with making a call for "Pro-Consumer Insurance Reforms" and making a suggestion for the following three points:
1. Require Insurers to Work in Good Faith
2. Require Prior Approval of Rate Increases
3. Establish an Insurance Consumer Advocate
The remainder of the top 10 list of worst insurance companies for consumers is rounded out by the following:
UNUM, - Disability Insurance, Life insurance, supplemental and accident insurance
AIG, - Auto insurance, life insurance, accident and health insurance, property and casualty
State Farm, - Auto, life, health, home owners insurance and health insurance
Conseco, - Health Insurance, Life Insurance and Annuities
WellPoint, - Health benefits Company
Farmers Insurance - Auto, Life and Homeowners Insurance
UnitedHealth, - Health care Insurance
Torchmark, - Holding Company offering life and supplemental health insurance
Liberty Mutual - Auto, Life, Homeowners and Commercial Insurance.
Over the past 16 years, I have handled thousands of Personal Injury cases against several of the companies on this list and a host of others. I can attest firsthand that some companies are better than others at handling claims for their Insured and helping the needs of the injured.
I find it no surprise that Allstate made the top of the list, nor am I not surprised by the findings of the report: The Ten Worst Insurance Companies in America". I do find it strange however, that the insurance companies are so quick to harm and work against the interest of their own insured clients.
There is only one word that I think of that can describe how I feel about Allstate Insurance Company: Outrage. In light of recent events, Allstate Insurance Company is not putting the best interest of their clients first or their 1,100 Agents in Florida.
Judge Paul Hawkes wrote the following scathing remarks for a unanimous three-judge panel: “Allstate’s willful, indeed potentially criminal, failure to comply with its disclosure obligations has prevented OIR from adequately investigating its reasoned belief that Allstate is systematically defrauding its policyholders”.
Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty is not backing down on his request for Allstate Floridian to allow his office free access to its records to end the statewide shutdown.
“The timeline is in their hands,” McCarty said. “Clearly they have indicated a willingness to provide further documents. It’s unfortunate that it takes a succession of court cases . . . to get their attention.”
One can only hope that Allstate lives up to their corporate slogan "you're in good hands with Allstate" and they are not found guilty of systematically defrauding unsuspecting policy holders. Let’s not forget that corporate giants have been known to believe in the philosophy that greed is good; at any cost. Insurance companies that are found defrauding hardworking policy holders that faithfully pay their monthly, quarterly and annual premiums, should be punished to the full extent of the law.
Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty and Judge Paul Hawkes deserve a round of applause for holding Allstate accountable. One can only hope that a whistleblower with integrity will come forward and shed some light on Allstate's internal practices and policies.
Click here to read more on this subject from Florida Today.com
The Allstate Corporation, one of the the nation's largest publicly held insurance companies, recently released approximately 150,000 pages of documents pertaining its review claim practices from the 1990s. Although, some media have regarded the documents as coming up short, according to a recent Times Picayune article.
On the opposite side of the argument, the release of the documents by Allstate can be viewed as Allstate's way of showing that they have nothing to hide. Undoubtedly, the Mckinsey documents issue will not go away for awhile, in light of the looming release of the new tell all book for the public by New Mexico attorney David Berardinelli, called "From Good Hands to Boxing Gloves: The Dark Side of Insurance."
An Allstate spokesperson, Rich Halberg, downplays the significance of the documents in a recent Allstate press release, "When aired in the unbiased setting of a court of law, allegations about the documents have been shown to be without merit. Most recently, some of the documents were seen and explained in context to a jury during a two-week trial in Kentucky (Hager v. Allstate)."
The Hager v. Allstate case involved a rear-end automobile accident case that occurred in 1997. The Plaintiff, a 60 year old accident victim, sued Allstate for not paying claims related to the personal injury in the car accident and for allegedly violating Kentucky's Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act. The outcome of the two week trial was for the Defendant, Allstate. According to several published reports, the jury came back with this verdict after deliberating for a short while. One can only wonder if the Jury took the Plaintiff seriously for asking for $1.425 Billion for what is typically referred to as a soft tissue injury.
Click here to view the extensive site of the Allstate "Claim Review" documents. The site shares comprehensive information on Casualty Review, Homeowners Review, Auto Physical Damage Review and Field work Information.
We encourage the public to read the documents and let us know your opinion of the documents.
Florida's Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles department issued a release yesterday regarding the mandatory PIP coverage effective January 1, 2008. In a prior post on the LaBovick Injury Law Blog, we reminded readers of this approaching deadline.
In yesterday's release isued by Florida's Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle department, the following paragraph caught my eye: "Law enforcement, including the Florida Highway Patrol, will be checking proof of insurance roadside and could issue a citation for failing to carry the proper insurance. We are encouraging all motorists to make sure their vehicle is properly insured. If you have questions please contact your insurance carrier/agent to make sure you have the required Personal Injury Protection coverage."
This is a strong warning that the department is taking this new law seriously. Please do not get caught without this mandatory PIP Insurance. If you do not have PIP effective January 1, 2008, your insurance carrier will cancel your policy and inform the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, who will then suspend your driver’s license and registration. This could be an expensive endeavor to get your license reinstated, fees range from $150 up to $500.
We encourage you to be proactive and make the call to your insurance Agent today to make sure that you are carrying the mandatory PIP coverage January 1, 2008. It can save you money and headaches in the future. I called my Insurance Agent today just to be on the safe side. They reminded me that I took care of this already and not to worry. I told them, I wanted to make sure one last time, you can never be too sure, with something so important.
To read more from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, click Here.
PIP Reminder to All Florida Drivers:
Effective January 1, 2008 - Florida law requires drivers to carry personal injury protection insurance.
You will be receiving a mandatory PIP reminder from your insurance company reminding you of this change. A word of caution, don't get caught without PIP coverage. Call your local insurance person and reinstate this mandatory coverage, so you will not forget.
The Florida Insurance Council wants you to know the following about PIP insurance coverage:
• Beginning on Jan. 1, 2008, Florida law requires drivers to maintain PIP insurance coverage which pays covered medical expenses for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle crash by the policyholder, passengers, and relatives residing in the policyholder's household.
•If a policyholder fails to maintain PIP coverage, the State of Florida may suspend the policyholder's driver's license and vehicle registration.
•If a policyholder already has personal injury protection coverage, the coverage will be amended effective Jan. 1, to incorporate legally required changes without any additional premium and that the policyholder need take no further action.
For more information on the Florida PIP Insurance coverage see The Insurance Journal and the Florida Insurance Council White Paper "The Return of Automobile Personal Injury Protection." . (Site Registration required)
Don't wait, Renew your PIP coverage today.
I came across an interesting article from the WallStreet Journal that was posted on MSN.com yesterday. The title was one that would raise the eyebrows of any plaintiff injury law firm "Employers grab accident victims' cash" written by Vanessa Fuhrmans. I am no surprised that this article had a 4.58 rating among the nearly 3000 readers that read it. Personally, I felt it deserved a rating of 5, it was right on the mark. The large insurance companies can't seem to stop trying to squeeze every little penny out of personal injury victims. It cited the behemoth, Walmart, going after a brain damaged woman's personal injury settlement of $700,000 and demanding repayment of $470,000. What makes it outrageous is that her personal injury settlement only netted $417,000 after fees and other medical bills were paid. This money was put in a trust to take care of her medical needs, however, the behemoth Walmart, did not care and felt they were entitled to all their money back plus legal fees. They sued and won the case and feel no regret or guilt from taking everything from this poor personal injury victim that has no quality of life and s relegated to depend upon Medicaid and Social Security. When will the large insurance companies stop sucking the blood from personal injury victims and finally learn to do what is right as a good corporate citizen. I wonder will we see this in our lifetime?
Vanessa Fuhrmans brings out startling revelations that most people do not know about their medical providers and how they can be in for a rude awakening, if they use their personal health insurance for injuries sustained in a personal injury accident, should their insurance company decide to come after them for reimbursement. According to the article, some company health plans, reserve the right to recoup the medical expenses it paid for someone's treatment if the person also collects damages in an injury suit. This is becoming a growing trend around the country, as more employer health plan law suits are materializing.
Insurance Companies and large Corporations try to portray Trial Lawyers, especially Personal Injury lawyers as greedy individuals only after the almighty dollar. They should take a look in the mirror and and feel ashamed of themselves. After reading this article, I have a new admiration for good personal injury lawyers around the country that stand up and fight valiantly for justice for the average citizen.
Personal Injury Lawyers, stand up and take a bow for not backing down to these immoral, greedy and money hungry insurance companies and corporations that only care about large profits and finding new ways to exploit the little person.
Click here to read the WSJ Article Employers grab accident victims' cash on MSN.com
These individuals should also know that if they are in an accident between October 1, 2007 and January 1, 2008 and are at fault, and the other driver, passenger or pedestrian who is injured does not have their own PIP coverage, they can be sued for everything including pain, suffering, medical bills and loss of earnings.They should therefore purchase adequate bodily injury liability coverage to protect themselves.
These are the key provisions under the new law effective January 1, 2008:
1. PIP will pay 80% of all reasonable and necessary medical expenses up to the $10,000.00 policy limit. This is the same as the old law.
2. A new fee schedule for medical bills limits doctor's reimbursement to 200% of the Medicare rates and the emergency room doctors to 80% of their usual and customary charges.
3. The new law will reserve $5,000 for emergency room doctors and inpatient hospital physicians.
4. The policy will pay 60% of disability benefits, as before, for any loss of gross income and earning capacity from inability to work.
5. It will also pay 100% of reasonable replacement service such as child care, housekeeping and yard work.
6. It will also pay a death benefit of $5,000 per individual, or the remainder of unused PIP benefits, whichever is less.
In order to be allowed to sue for pain and suffering for injuries resulting from an automobile accident, as before, you must have either of the following:
1. Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.
2. Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement.
3. Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
As a Personal Injury Attorney, I come across a lot of interesting cases. When I find one that involves insurance disputes, I take special note. One such case is the recent Pease v. State Farm. This is a personal injury case involving a police officer and uninsured motorist coverage.
Jason Pease, a sergeant in the Lincoln County’s (Maine) Sheriff’s Office, had a regular take home car. While off duty on Christmas night in 2002, Sergeant Pease responded to a dispatch call to resolve a disturbance. When he arrived, Sergeant Pease found Michael Montagana causing the problem. Mr. Montagana claimed that he had been drugged and that people were out to get him. Sergeant Pease tried to control the situation but at some point Mr. Montagana ran to the Sergeant's car, got in, and tried to drive away. Sergeant Pease attempted to stop Mr. Montagana and was run over. As a result, Sergeant Pease suffered severe injuries.
What happened next is disconcerting:
- The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office had elected not to buy Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage to protect its officers.
- The Sheriff’s Office did have Workers Compensation coverage, but it did not adequately provide for Sergeant Pease's condition.
- Sergeant Pease had personal UM coverage through State Farm.
- State Farm built into its UM coverage an exclusion for vehicles “furnished for [your] regular use”. According to State Farm, Sergeant Pease was left without a remedy since Sergeant Payne was regularly allowed to take his police car home. The Maine Supreme Court, fortunately, found that once the car was stolen it was no longer supplied for his regular use, and therefore Sergeant Pease’s exclusion did not apply.
What is perhaps most interesting about this decision is that it is not the argument made by the Sergeant's attorneys. Instead, the main Supreme Court reached this conclusion on its own. This decision follows ruling from several other states finding UM coverage for people injured by a thief or carjacker, who had stolen the insured’s own vehicle.
In the future, when you are renewing your personal car insurance policy, think twice before you try to save money and cancel or downgrade your UM coverage. It may come in handy when you least expect it. You never know...
A few cases that were cited in Pease v. State Farm include:
- State Farm Mutual Auto. Ins. Co. v. Nissen, 851 P. 2d 165, 167-68 (Colo. 1993)
- Comet Casualty Co. v. Jackson, 467 N.E. 2d 269 (Ill. App. Ct. 1984)
- American Prot. Insurance Co. v. Parker, 258 S.E. 2d 540, 544 (Ga. App. 1979)
- Longo v. Market Transition Facility of N.J., 741 A. 2d 149, 152-53 (N.J. App. Div. 1999)
- Guiberson v. Hartford Casualty Ins. Co., 704 P. 2d 68, 74 (Mont. 1985)
- Fontanez v. Texas Farm Bureau Ins. Co., 840 S.W. 2d 647, 650 (Tx. App. 1992)
The Florida Senate issued a release yesterday saying that the September 18th special session will be cancelled. According to the release, there will be a Fall Special Session instead. This was a lifeline for the Florida PIP No-fault Insurance law. It is Florida's requirement for Florida drivers to carry at least $10,000 of no-fault insurance. The requirement to maintain PIP is scheduled to sunset on October 1, 2007. That is unless there is some sort of divine intervention to keep it alive in one form or another, past this date.
Click here to read the Press Release from the Florida Senate.
The victim's auto insurer, Amica Mutual Insurance, had argued it was not required to cover the biker's death because he was riding his uninsured motorcycle, not his insured auto, when the accident began. The policy's uninsured motorist coverage had an owned vehicle exclusion.
But the state Supreme Court has ruled that the uninsured coverage applies because the victim was not actually occupying the motorcycle at the time of the hit-and-run that killed him.
We are happy to hear the insurance industry making statements that they will take care of any claims arising out of the Minneapolis bridge collapse tragedy without delay.
According to a vice president at the Insurance Federation of Minnesota, "There will be no exclusions – it will all be coverable." They expect most claims to be for auto damage, workers' compensation and commercial property damage.
However, let's not rule out lawsuits regarding the maintenance of the the structure. This undertone has been looming in the news of late that the officials were warned some time ago about the dangers of this I-35W Bridge that hosted a heavy volume of traffic through downtown Minneapolis, Minn.
I can't get over the fact that I drove across the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis several times. I just can't believe this happened.
The survivors have a lot to be thankful for. This was a natural disaster that could have been prevented.
Stay tuned... I am sure there will be lots of ink regarding lawsuits stemming from the collapse of the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis.
Click Here to read more from the Injurance Journal News.
On Oct. 1, Florida's no-fault car insurance law, around since 1971, and its requirement for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) will likely expire. The June special session, ended without a resolution. Although many proponents have called for an extension of the law, as of this moment in time, it has not happened.
Both sides have valid arguments in the PIP debate. Our legislators have a tough decision on their hands. According to Hospital lobbyists, the end of the PIP requirement would mean a $350 million loss to hospitals in un-reimbursed medical care. On the Insurance side, Insurance lobbyists claim that the end of PIP, would only cut a hospitals' profits. Another argument against keeping PIP is massive amounts of fraud would be eliminated such as fraud rings involving scam artists.
What will be the fate of the Florida PIP? Only time will tell if Governor Crist and the Florida legislators can save PIP before the clock strikes on October 1.
Click Here to read more on the Florida PIP story from Tallahassee.com
The Law Firm, LaBovick & LaBovick, Civil Justice Prosecutors, is a Plaintiff’s firm. The firm focuses on fighting for Plaintiff’s personal injury victim’s rights in Florida and on qui tam (whistleblower claims) nationwide. We handle all serious injuries, car accidents, maritime accidents, wrongful death, slip & fall, toxic torts and product liability cases. We have locations in Boynton Beach, West Palm Beach, Jupiter and Port St. Lucie, Florida. Visit our firm website at www.labovick.com for more injury information.
When it came to changing Florida's no-fault auto insurance law, state Sen. Bill Posey said he was given two choices: Fix it or trash it.
The Senate instead listened quietly Thursday while Posey, R-Rockledge, explained a proposal that would extend through January 2012 the state's no-fault law, which provides a minimum of $10,000 of personal injury protection, or PIP, to people injured in auto accidents.
The Florida No Fault Insurance Law is set to expire in October.